Candidate Trump’s globalism foreign policy speech yesterday has a lot of grist for all to absorb. This piece will only talk about 2 pieces and how some parts are in consonance with “establishment’ thinking and others not so much. The two areas are engagement with the Russian Federation and whether to fight to win.
Trump said that we should reengage Russia and seek common ground. However, if that cannot be found we should walk away. In contrast to re-engagement the House Armed Services Committee in light of Russia’s aggression and ongoing occupation of Crimea, is seeking to limit the cooperation between the United States and its Cold War foe and work to help Ukraine. In the most recent markup of the fiscal year 2017 defense policy released this week it states that the Pentagon cannot use any funds for bilateral military-to-military cooperation with Russia until the defense secretary, in coordination with the secretary of state, certifies to Congress that “the Russian Federation has ceased its occupation of Ukrainian territory and its aggressive activities that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”
On the use of military power candidate Trump said: “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V,”he chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took a similar position in recent testimony. He said that he: “doesn’t believe the United States should ever send American service members into a fair fight. Rather, we have to maintain a joint force that has the capability and credibility to assure our allies and partners, deter aggression and overmatch any potential adversary,”
This statement is in pure contrast to both Trump’s statement and maybe more importantly in contrast to the continual piecemeal escalation by the Obama administration. It just announced, quietly, that the US is deploying 250 more soldiers into Syria to aid in the training and support of the anti-Assad forces. This gradual, piecemeal escalation has two risks:
1. Not enough and not in time to aid the anti-Assad forces which are being pushed back by the Syrian, Iran, Hezbollah, Russian combined forces, and
2. Potential engagement by Russian or Syrian air forces as they press their attacks. (Syria yesterday bombed a hospital in a “rebel” controlled area and killed at least 16 doctors from “Doctors Without Borders.”
In short the risk of failure and the risk of escalation because of engagement with either Syrian forces is greatly increased. This could cause another escalation. We have previously discussed the options in Syria—poor and real poor.
The gradual piecemeal escalation seems to be in contrast with candidate Trump’s positions and that of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Trump seems to be in consonance with part of the “establishment” and at odds with others. As we move toward the 2016 election we will point out additional contrasts in defense and foreign policy.